Government decides: Twitter no longer enjoys “safe port” protection

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The government has concluded that Twitter in India is no longer an “intermediary” and, therefore, cannot benefit from the legal protection granted to Internet intermediaries under section 79 of the Information Technology Act. senior government officials said Monday.

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology arrived at this point of view after consulting with legal experts and other government departments over the past few days, and it is likely that it will present it before the courts. courts or law enforcement agencies as needed, officials said.

“It’s up to the courts to finally decide if Twitter will always benefit safe harbor status or not. As far as we are concerned (the IT ministry), our point of view is now clear. They (Twitter) have so far failed to meet several standards, ”said a senior ministry official.

In February, the government put in place the Intermediary Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Digital Media, under which the “important” social media intermediaries – those with more than 50 lakhs of users in India – were required to appoint a resident grievance officer, a nodal contact. person and a country-based compliance officer. Social media intermediaries had until May 26 to make appointments.

Major social media intermediaries including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Telegram complied the following week, announcing and posting on their websites the names of the resident grievance officer and sending the names of the nodal contact person and of the chief. responsible for compliance in the ministry.

Twitter announced the appointment of Dharmendra Chatur as Acting Grievance Officer and assured the department in a letter on June 6 that it was working to make permanent appointments to these positions. He also said he was at an advanced stage of finalizing the appointment of the compliance officer and that details would be communicated to the ministry within the next week.

Ministry officials said, however, that as of Monday, Twitter had not shared those details.

Meanwhile, Chatur, the Acting Resident Grievance Officer, quit Twitter Sunday – and, according to the Twitter website, his responsibilities were taken over by San Francisco-based Jeremy Kessel, senior director of global legal policy at the company.

Ministry officials said that since Kessel is not a resident of India, his appointment did not comply with IT rules.

“The rules are very clear that the person must reside in India and be on the company’s payroll. We don’t care if it’s an employee of the Indian branch or the head office of the company, ”said an official.

On Monday evening (India time), Twitter posted vacancies on its website for a resident grievance manager, a nodal manager and a compliance manager for India. All three posts were based in Mumbai or New Delhi. The resident grievance officer would ideally be “a seasoned professional with prior experience interfacing with the public or government officials on matters of national importance,” Twitter said on its website.

Also on Monday, Twitter India found itself embroiled in new controversy after discovering that a world map in the “Tweep Life” section under “Careers” on the platform’s website showed the Union’s territories. of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as lying outside the borders of India. The distorted map featured pins for three Twitter offices in India, Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Informatics ministry sources said the government was looking at the “warped map” issue at the highest level and would soon issue a notice asking Twitter to explain.

An email sent to Twitter requesting his comment on the map has not elicited a response at press time. However, late Monday evening the map was no longer visible on the web page.

This is the third time Twitter has released a map that is different from the official Indian government map. In October-November last year, Twitter’s automatic geolocation feature showed, during a live broadcast from the Hall of Fame war memorial in Leh, the location “Jammu & Kashmir, People’s Republic of China ”.

Twitter apologized at the time. However, a month later it showed Leh as part of Jammu and Kashmir instead of Union of Ladakh territory.


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